Five Questions with Baltimore Food Policy Initiative’s Sarah Buzogany

From by Sarah Buzogany
Five Questions with Baltimore Food Policy Initiative’s Sarah Buzogany

Food Tank, in partnership with the George Washington University, is hosting the 1st Annual Food Tank Summit in Washington D.C. on January 21-22, 2015.

This two-day event will feature more than 75 different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policy makers, government officials, and students will come together for panels on topics including food waste, urban agriculture, family farmers, farm workers, and more.

Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Sarah Buzogany, Food Access Planner at Baltimore Food Policy Initiative, who will be speaking at the summit.

Food Tank (FT): What will your message be at the Food Tank Summit?

Sarah Buzogany (SB): How to tell a compelling story about the value of city food policy to engage local policy makers.

(FT): How are you contributing to building a better food system?

(SB): Food-related positions in city government are a new and growing trend, and I am lucky to be Baltimore’s first Food Access Planner. Five years ago, Baltimore was one of the first cities to have a food policy director, and now there are approximately 15 food policy leadership positions nationally. Through the food policy agenda, Baltimore City has contributed to building a better food system by developing the first city CSA wellness incentive where labor union(s) provide rebates for employees participating in a CSA, launching the virtual supermarket to improve food access in food deserts, and creating a city-issued food environment map that influences policies, strategies and priorities for the city.

(FT): What are the biggest obstacles or challenges you face in achieving your organization's goals?

(SB): The challenge is the multi-faceted nature of the food system. There is no “Department of Food” and food interests so many agencies - city, state and federal. This is a perfect opportunity for intergovernmental collaboration and partnerships, yet it is difficult to identify and address so many policies that may indirectly impact a sector of the food system.

(FT): Who is your food hero and why?

(SB): My food heroes are the people who use food as a means to pursue health equity and social justice goals. That includes people who hire the formerly incarcerated to cater healthy meals for summer programs; teachers growing food to incorporate lessons in math and science; doctors prescribing fruits and veggies as part of a holistic look at a healthy lifestyle.  I think these ideas bring the concepts of healthy, local, sustainable, etc. down off the pedestals that can sometimes make them less approachable and teach people that we all deserve that kind of good food every day.

(FT): In 140 characters or less what is the most important thing we can all do to help change the food system?

(SB): Build unlikely partnerships. Collaborate across the food system. Change agents can exist everywhere if you help cultivate them.

The event is SOLD OUT, but interested participants can sign up for the live-stream HERE. Or JOIN US for dinner and a reception to celebrate Food Tank's two-year anniversary on January 21st at 5:30pm EST. This event will also sell out fast, REGISTER NOW.